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Three Wise Men History: Were They Wise? Who Were They? Why Frankincense?

 

Everyone who has heard the story of Jesus in the manger knows that three wise men guided by a bright star in the night sky showed up at one point, and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child. But were there really three wise men? The Bible is not specific about the Magi, who they are, or what these "wise men of the East" were doing as they roamed the desert.

Wise Men In The Bible

According to Matthew 2:1-12, wise men followed a star to Bethlehem and began to inquire about this king of the Jews, who seemed to have just been born. This caused quite a stir, especially with King Herod, who surrounded all the priests and intellectuals demanding to know why so many people were coming to see this mysterious child. He interpreted the prophecy, and Herod instructed the wise men to kill him on his way back, but he was "warned in a dream" that he was sketchy. After giving up on his gifts, he took a different path out of the forever home and into a good book.


Who were the three wise men?

Because there is so little information about the Magi in the Bible, people have tried to fill in as much information as possible about these three travelers. Their names are never given, but because they feature so much in the birth story that is repeatedly told in Christian culture, she had to say something to them. According to Western tradition, the three kings of Persia, India and Babylonia are called Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar respectively. In Syria, the wise men are named Larvandad, Hormisdas, and Gushnasaf, while other Christian cultures name them Kagba, Badakhrida and Badadilma.

It is unclear how the Magi, who were initially referred to simply as Magos (a caste of priests and, yes, wise men), became king. In fact, they were probably astrologers of the stars (that is, priests), simple servants of the court rather than rulers. However, between the 3rd and 8th centuries, new translations of the Bible filled him with this royal designation, most notably the line "Let all kings fall before him." Thanks to this combination of mysticism and the suggestion of significance, the Magi have become saints and martyrs in some traditions. Many churches also claim to have kept his remains, but it is much harder to identify the body of someone with an unknown, uh, identity.


What's with those gifts?

We don't even know that there were definitely three wise men. We know for certain that there was more than one, but we assume that there were three because they brought three gifts which, upon closer inspection, you would find clearly unsuitable for a child. Biblical scholars have also taken note of this, and have developed several theories about what happened to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The most basic principle is that gifts are what they are: myrrh is an anointing oil, frankincense is a perfume, and gold is gold. (Everyone loves gold.) Others believe that gifts are metaphors, e.g. Gold represents "kingdom", frankincense is divine, and myrrh is a symbol of death because it is used in embalming. Another possibility is that gold represents virtue, frankincense is a symbol of prayer, and myrrh is a stand-in for suffering. Yet another possibility is that it is all a result of Isaiah's prophecy that "they will bring gold and frankincense, and they will proclaim the praise of Jehovah."

They Didn't Even Arrive At Christmas

If you go to see a birth play today, you will see that everyone shows up right after the birth of Jesus, but if you think about it, it is very unlikely that people who have to travel from foreign lands Well, they even managed to make it before Mary. The manger can also be left. That's because they didn't: the Magi actually arrived 12 days after the birth of Christ. Birth play shortens the timeline to keep the length to a minimum, as no one wants to watch a 12-day play. Today, the day of the Magi's arrival is known as Epiphany or Three Kings Day, and depending on your brand of Christianity, you celebrate it anywhere between January 6 for Catholics and January 19 for Orthodox Christians. .

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